net galley book reviews

so i think i had better catch with my book reviews – so please be patient 🙂

men’s health push pull swing matt murphy

No piece of exercise equipment is more convenient, reliable, versatile and effective at building lean muscle and boosting post-workout metabolic rate than the venerable dumbbell and its cousins the kettlebell and sandbag. Together, these are the tools that will reshape the way we think about fitness and this book will stand as the definitive guide to targeting the key muscles that men and women want to develop and tone.The beauty of these tools is that they are simple, inexpensive, and can be used in a small space so readers can exercise in the convenience of their homes. Most important is that they allow the freedom to use a full range of motion, unlike the rigid, limiting structure of weight machines. No longer restrained by the typical up/down motion of barbells and machines, readers can become strong in any direction. And sanctioned by Men’s Health, this book demonstrates with large color photos more than 150 strength exercises that incorporate the three key movements—pushing, pulling, and swinging—that make up the perfect full-range-of-motion workout. Because it emphasizes building functional strength for real-world application and total-body fitness Men’s Health Push, Pull, Swing by Myatt Murphy, CSCS will appeal to beginners as well as fitness buffs, especially those who enjoy CrossFit style workouts review 4 stars Randy Daugherty’s review Dec 06, 14
4 of 5 stars
Read in December, 2014

With over a 100 different exercises, routines,and descriptive and visuals of the core exercises, this book walks you through a quick and easy way to shake up your routine.
Using nothing but Dumbells, Kettlebells and the Sandbag, Murphy shows us how easy it is to work out at home on a budget, traveling, take a sandbag with you and fill it when you arrive.
Included is information on nutrition and figuring your daily nutrition requirements, sleep and hydration.
At around 130 some pages it is a very quick but informative read.

the coincidence of cocunut cake amy e reichert

YOU’VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together

While reading this book, all I want to do was eat and visit Milwaukee (a city I have yet to visit). Lou aka Elizabeth owns and operates her own French restaurant called Luella’s, in honor of her grandmother, Luella. Lou love to cook and her restaurant, although her long time lawyer boyfriend, Devlin wants her to sell the business once they’re married. He wants to take care of her. Sounds great, right? Not for Lou who loves being independent. One day she makes a coconut cake for Devlin and walks into his apartment to see him with his intern wearing a nightgown Devlin bought for Lou. More angry then heartbroken, Lou leaves Devlin without listening to his explanations. Later that night during dinner at Luella’s, she has a horrible night. All her dishes go wrong. The biggest food critic in Milwaukee eats there that night and ends up panning Lou and her restaurant in the paper. That review may end up closing her restaurant for good. What Lou doesn’t know is that she bumped into the food critic on her way to give Devlin his cake. The food critic is Al, from Britain visiting the city for a short time and writing more negative then positive reviews for restaurants. He has no idea he panned the woman he bumped into (and thinks is cute) is the owner of Luella’s, he hate eating at.

Lou and Al meet again, and Al wants to get to know Lou better. He uses the guise that he hasn’t done much sightseeing and asks Lou to be his tour guide of sorts. She agrees, showing him the sights and tastes of her city, unaware Al is the food critic who slammed her beloved restaurant. These two start out as friends and slowly realize they have an attraction for one another. Al learns Lou owns Luella’s and has a great amount of guilt for panning her restaurant, but if he tells her who he is, she’ll end up hating him. Does Al keep his job a secret even though he’s falling for Lou?

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a great foodie romance. Lou is independent, strong, and very caring, which is show perfectly with Al, who is so out of place, but learns to loosen up and embrace life thanks to Lou. These two have great chemistry together. The love scenes are more subtle than sensual and descriptive, but fit the tone of the novel.

Devlin is very one-dimensional, and comes and goes with no reason (he’s more of a flyaway character). We never get a full explanation on whether he did cheat on Lou or not, but Lou didn’t care because by then she comes to the conclusion they just weren’t compatible. Devlin isn’t the villain of the story because he’s so cardboard. Some readers may have an issue with his lacking personality, but the strength of the plot is the great characterizations of Al and Lou and their “dates”.

Fans of contemporary foodie romance will get a kick out of this one, and crave some cake to boot!

girl runner carrie snyder

Girl Runner is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.

When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life for herself in the city.

Without revealing who they are, or what they may want from her, the visitors take Aganetha on an outing from the nursing home. As ready as ever for adventure, Aganetha’s memories are stirred when the pair return her to the family farm where she was raised. The devastation of WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, the optimism of the 1920s and the sacrifices of the 1930s play out in Aganetha’s mind, as she wrestles with the confusion and displacement of the present.

Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner is an engaging and endearing story about family, ambition, athletics and the dedicated pursuit of one’s passions. It is also, ultimately, about a woman who follows the singular, heart-breaking and inspiring course of her life until the very end.

Snyder demonstrates creativity as well as polished writing. Significant narrative for a debut benchmark.

I was drawn to Aggie’s independence, her groundbreaking achievement and her desire for more when the era was limited to women. Despite her age, Aggie is witty, plucky and hearty. Her memory and losses are tearful, as she revisits her tormented past.

I was under the impression we would read of Aggie’s trials and tribulations of her Olympic experience and success, instead the book only skimmed the surface of this aspect. Describing the many challenges female athletes faced during this time period was glossed over, however, Aggie’s problem riddled personal and family issues monopolized attention as she flashes back to her painful history. Her resilience is inspiring, her escape mechanism running. The narrative is somewhat disincentive, never reaching its impetus with all its potential.

Snyder skillfully addresses life after glory, redemption, dreams and failures. Focusing on public and private uneasiness through a memorable character. Entertaining read.

99 keys to creative life melissa harris

Creativity is not just painting or writing; it is stepping outside the way we normally think and looking at a situation from different angles. Author Melissa Harris reminds us that the many small acts we perform on a daily basis can be used to view our lives in a new way.

99 Keys to a Creative Life is divided into three sections for easy reference: 33 awareness keys (mental, emotional or physical): Awareness practices deepen our ability to know what accelerates our creativity. In this section we become highly aware of subtle things that can either stifle or propel us. 33 intuitive or heart-based keys: these help to keep us on the creative path. We “tune in” and make our channel to creativity stronger. 33 spiritual or soul-based keys: ways to apply spirituality or soul-based practices to our creative process. These keys also give the reader ideas on applying spiritual principles to enhance or improve our individual connection to Spirit.

I was sent a copy of the book for review through Net Galley, as always, all opinions are my own.

Not all of the advice in this book appealed to me, but I did like the practical advice given as awareness keys. Much of it mirrored how I currently live my life. The idea of seasons of creativity were new to me, but as I paid attention I realized that cold weather months are when I feel at my most creative (I really like to laze around in the sun during the summer months.) I think I’ll give this another read to see what else I can incorporate into m

saving kenna d l raver I knew from the first moment I saw her, Kenna Campbell would be my undoing. I’ve done my best to stay away from her, but I fail at every turn. Now, she’s been taken from me, and I’ll stop at nothing to get her back.

Irish born, Sloan Sullivan is a man with a past he can’t escape. Everything about him, from his identity to his profession, is a lie.

Until he met Kenna, he didn’t think twice about his fraudulent life. Now, his past is threatening his future and preventing him from saving the woman he loves.

I’ve loved Sloan from the moment I saw him. Though he pushes me away at every turn, and his alpha male tendencies frustrate me, I never leave. I always give him a second chance.

Kenna Campbell fell in love with Sloan Sullivan when she was sixteen. Throughout the years, she’s stayed true to him even when it hurt her to do so.

In a heartbreaking turn of events, Kenna falls prey to Marcus Xavier’s evil game. Though she’s physically survived the brutality she suffered at the hands of two men, her emotional and mental scars refuse to heal, and she wonders if she’s broken beyond repair.

Is love enough to keep these two together, or will the monsters from both their pasts destroy them forever?

Saving Kenna is an erotic stand-alone novel with a paranormal twist, a bunch of second chances, and a sweet happy ever after set in the Indulging series world. It is not necessary to read Indulging in Irelyn or Being Zolt, but I hope you’ll want to after reading Kenna & Sloan’s story

in plain sight h l stafford

Abbey O’Rourke’s grandmother was the most intriguing person Abbey knew, and the person to whom Abbey could turn when her life went awry. Now, Gram’s house became her refuge after her mother’s harsh commentary on Abbey’s recent breakup. But as Abbey, still fuming, watched her mother drive away, her mood shifted from annoyance to puzzlement as she heard Gram say, “She is afraid.”

Abbey soon realized that Gram’s cryptic comment was just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, Abbey would learn that her family history included a link to an ancient prophecy and a mystical tribe of people with telepathic power so strong that people would be willing to kill to control it.

H.L. Stafford’s In Plain Sight is filled with intrigue, taut action, and edge-of-your-seat suspense, as well as a heartwarming love story. Stafford skillfully weaves the storylines together and then ties up the ends in a thrilling, surprising, and supremely satisfying conclusion.

Oh my.

I have so many thoughts about this book. Let’s just see where my rant typing takes us.
Jim typing

The MC is a nurse with a friend who was written as a very stereotypical gay friend (also a nurse). I’m a nurse, and there were several things that didn’t ring true. Especially the scene where her gay nurse friend who works as a surgical nurse walks into the ER and is able to bark out orders as though he works there.

But I digress…the book really needed heavier editing. In the beginning I couldn’t figure out the POV well. It was third person omniscient, but written awkwardly. It jumped around willy-nilly. You would be in one head, and then know something that character doesn’t know, while still hearing their voice. I know I’m not explaining it well, but it was weird.

Too many characters come into play and aren’t made memorable enough to keep track of them. I had to keep using my kindle search feature to go back and see what the character had done previously.
I understand nothing

The first HALF of the book is so slow. The book tries to build the “romance” between the MC and her love interest, teach her about her abilities, and move into the action.

Then the second half introduces a bunch of new characters, starts the action with a bang, and then concludes with a lot of new agey, “we are all connected” and just need to tap into the source.
that developed quickly

You would think with special abilities, archeology, mind power awakening, and kidnapping/assassination plots that the book would be amazing.

I never connected to the characters, couldn’t keep track of everyone, and by the end, didn’t really care.
don't care

In the hands of the right editor, it could be much better.

hades candice fox

A dark, compelling and original thriller that will have you spellbound from its atmospheric opening pages to its shocking climax. Hades is the debut of a stunning new talent in crime fiction.

Hades Archer, the man they call the Lord of the Underworld, surrounds himself with the things others leave behind. Their trash becomes the twisted sculptures that line his junkyard. The bodies they want disposed of become his problem for a fee. Then one night a man arrives on his doorstep, clutching a small bundle that he wants ‘lost’. And Hades makes a decision that will change everything…

Twenty years later, homicide detective Frank Bennett feels like the luckiest man on the force when he meets his new partner, the dark and beautiful Eden Archer. But there’s something strange about Eden and her brother, Eric. Something he can’t quite put his finger on. When the two detectives are called to the scene of an attempted drowning, they find a traumatised victim telling a story that’s hard to believe – until the divers start bringing up bodies.

Frank is now on the hunt for a very different kind of serial killer: one who offers the sick and dying hope at murderous cost. At first, his partner’s sharp instincts come in handy. Soon, he’s wondering if she’s as dangerous as the man they hunt

I am giving this read 3.5 out of 5 stars, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it – I did, but I did have issues with part of it. It is an Australian novel which introduces a new police partnership – Frank Bennett and Eden Archer. It is a police crime thriller that is a little bit different to anything that I have read lately – and the reasons for that will be become apparent as you read on. Eden and her brother Eric are both police officers who have had a rather unusual upbringing. Following a family tragedy they were raised by their mentor Hades Archer – a “fixer”. If you need something hiding in the middle of the night – he is your man – for a price. The question is, how did their family tragedy and upbringing leave their mark on their characters?

The story involves them trying to catch a serial killer after the discovery of numerous body parts. The killings are brutal, gory and without mercy. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that they are dealing with someone organised, who makes careful and detailed plans and is extremely “skilful” at what he does. He does not make mistakes. That really was my issue with the book. The crimes are so detailed and intricate that I couldn’t really see how one person could plan and carry them out successfully. Having said that, it is a really gripping read that I thoroughly enjoyed, one which really kept my interest. I will be intrigued to read the follow-on “Eden” when that is released in the UK. Thanks to the publishers for the review copy.

hidden emma kavanagh

A gripping psychological thriller by a former police psychologist. Perfect for fans of Nicci French, Tana French and S. J. Watson.


A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.


To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…

By EssexReader VINE VOICE on 9 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What’s this? )

The story begins with a shooting spree by a lone gunman at a hospital. A witness to the carnage is Charlie, a reporter with a local paper. We see from her eyes the victims, some of whom she knows. These names don’t mean anything to us – yet, but the timeline to the story then goes back, counting down to detail events over the preceding 6 day period and culminating on the day of the shooting. This does tend to jump around and attention is needed to the timeline heading for each chapter to avoid confusion. Written from multiple viewpoints – Charlie, the journalist; Aden, a police fire arms officer; Imogen, a hospital psychologist and the shooter himself – the voice of Charlie and the shooter are told in the first person, the other characters in third. I know that some don’t like the switching of tenses of POV but this doesn’t bother me at all.

I’m not usually a fan of stories that begin with the end as I lose that element of surprise but in this case, the author has made it work very well. The dramatic start will get you hooked and by going back in time, we get to know the backstory to various characters, including the shooter. Although there can be no excuse for such a savage act, we get to see his mindset as he prepares for his murderous mission.

Running through the story, is a strand concerning the death of a young nurse, Emily. Emily’s body was found on the M4, apparently the drunken victim of a road accident. Although Emily and Charlie used to be close friends, they had drifted apart but Charlie is concerned that her death is somehow connected to reports of a gunman having been seen at the hospital (this is prior to the shooting) and uses her investigative skills to find out the truth. She is not convinced that Emily’s death was merely an accident but struggles to convince others.

This is a complex character driven story and the author has used her experience as a police and military psychologist to show how police officers involved in life or death situations can struggle to deal with the aftermath of their actions and how such tragedies affect them. Writing about what she knows makes these characters realistic and believable.

Once or twice I thought I had guessed who the shooter was from the little hints that were weaved in at various times. I was however completely wrong and I realised later that I should have been paying more attention. Whilst Charlie was my favourite character (she’s feisty who acts on her gut instinct), all the main characters were realistic and well-drawn.

This is the second novel by Emma Kavanagh that I’ve read. Both books are extremely well written but this latest one just has the edge for me. Hidden is a well plotted and tense thriller written with authority and attention to detail. It’s not a fast paced action thriller but for those interested in the human psyche then this is definitely recommended.

crash & burn lisa gardner The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s latest stand-alone thriller, with a cameo by her fan-favorite character, Boston Detective D.D. Warren

My name is Nicky Frank. Except, most likely, it isn’t.

Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. Not in the dark, not in the rain, not with her injuries. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero.

I’m looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she doesn’t exist.

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says.

My husband claims he’ll do anything to save me. Except, most likely, he can’t.

Who is Nicky Frank, and what happened the night her car sailed off the road? Was it a random accident or something more sinister given the woman’s lack of family and no close friends? The deeper Wyatt digs, the more concerned he becomes. Because it turns out, in the past few months, Nicky has suffered from more than one close accident. . . . In fact, it would appear someone very much wants her dead.

This is my life. Except, most likely, it’s not. Now watch me crash and burn.

I have read a lot of Lisa Gardner‘s books now and I have enjoyed every single one of them. This one was no exception. The story was intriguing and half the time it was impossible to even know who our main character was! I found it very difficult to put the book down especially the last part as it raced towards its conclusion. A really great read and an easy five stars.

vanilla megan hart

It’s an acquired taste…he just has to acquire it

Elise knows what she wants in the bedroom, and she makes sure she gets it. Her thirst for domination has long been quenched by a stable of men only too happy to bow down before her.

But sexual satisfaction isn’t the same as love, and she’s been burned in the past by giving her heart too freely.

Niall is handsome, smart, successful and sweet—sweet as vanilla. When they meet, their romantic connection is electric, even though he’s way on the opposite end of the kink spectrum. Despite how she fights it, Elise falls for him—but how can a relationship work when both lovers want to be on top?

*** 3.5 On-His-Knees Stars ***
(Arc kindly provided by publisher via Netgalley)

If you’ve ever read a Megan Hart novel, you know her stories are always complex and alluring and Vanilla was no exception.

 photo 3fee13cb-c5a7-4d6a-96e2-118d5eaa29ae_zps818a7151.jpg

Elise is a woman that knows what she wants and she likes to dominate her men in the bedroom. She’s not into causing pain or humiliation but she enjoys being in control and feeling worshiped by the man at her feet. She’s beautiful and smart, her career as a partner to a financial planner keeps her busy and after a bad breakup that even years later she still can’t shake off, there is no room for a committed relationship in her life. She struggles with the memories of the one that got away, her mysterious playmate who gives her everything in the bedroom but nothing outside of it and when she meets a new man that for the first in a long time, makes her want to give love another try, her life gets really complicated, because this new guy likes his sex one hundred percent Vanilla.

The story also includes Elise’s struggles with her family, they don’t understand her choices in life; her Jewish mother just wants her to find a nice man, settle down and have a bunch of babies but that’s not who she is nor what she wants. After a string of bad relationships Elise is ready for love and Niall is offering an honest and simple love but he can’t play those dominant games Elise likes; will they be able to reach a middle ground and move forward with the relationship or will it crash and burn just like the rest? Elise will need to decide whether she’ll move on from her past lovers and take what Niall is offering or continue on a lonely path of sex and domination without love.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I have to say I thought that the story was too embellished, the idea of the plot was fantastic if it have been kept more simple. I understand the author’s intent to shock the reader, which she did but in the end it was a little too much. Have you ever read a book, where you enjoy the story but didn’t like any of the characters? That was me in this case, not the primary or secondary characters were appealing to me, their connections seemed shallow and arrogant and nothing about them reach out to me. I recommend this book to those erotica readers looking for a complex and sexy read, where a woman is on top.

Vanilla music playlist:
*Wasting All These Tears by Cassadee Poppe
*Use Somebody by Kings of Leon
*1,000 Times by Sara Bareilles
*Beautiful War by Kings of Leon


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